What is Delayed Gastric Emptying?

Delayed gastric emptying



is a syndrome where the stomach muscles fail to function normally. Strong and proper muscular contractions are the common phenomenon that help the food through the digestive tract. An abnormal functioning of these muscles would not digest the food properly thus causing a delay in emptying.

Delayed Gastric Emptying:

As already mentioned, the stomach muscles tend to function poorly in people who develop gastroparesis. In some, the stomach muscles fail to function completely causing an interference in the digestive process along with vomiting and nausea.

The nutrition levels and the blood sugar levels would also begin to fluctuate abnormally because of this condition.

Causes of Gastroparesis:

Though the reason for gastroparesis is a bit vague, doctors believe that a damaged

vagus nerve

which controls the stomach muscles can be a reason for this syndrome.

This vagus nerve is the one that controls the stomach muscles’ contraction thus, helping the food to be pushed in to the small intestines. Once this nerve suffers a damage, sending signals to the muscles would fail causing all the complex digestive processes a problem.

Eventually, the food would remain in the stomach for a longer time than supposed to and would take more time than normal to get digested.


The following are the symptoms of this condition-

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • feeling full only after a few spoons of intake
  • bloating
  • fluctuation in blood sugar levels
  • appetite loss
  • gastrointestinal reflux
  • weight loss

It is essential to see a doctor immediately if the symptoms show up.

Risk Factors:

The existence of the following conditions can lead to a delay in emptying the stomach-

  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Bulimia
  • Scleroderma
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Anorexia

Along with these conditions, a surgery to the abdomen, particular cancer medications and treatments and certain antidepressants also worsen the condition.


Following radioactive tests and endoscopy, if the doctor describes the condition a patient is suffering from is gastroparesis, certain dietary changes would be recommended. Unfortunately, there are no proper medications for this syndrome. Taking medicines actually causes more harm than good. Let us look at the recommended dietary changes-

  • intake of frequent smaller meals
  • consuming well cooked vegetables and fruits than raw ones (as they contain low fiber)
  • consuming low fat foods
  • consuming liquids like soups
  • water intake during the meals
  • walking after every meal

If these fail,

delayed gastric emptying

can be corrected with the help of a couple of experimental surgical techniques. One is nerve toxin injection which would allow food release from the stomach and the other is electrical gastric stimulation where the stomach muscles can be controlled for proper food flow.

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